How to deal with friends with different political views

Things are heating up. The drama is real, and so are the tensions. In fact, I don’t think I can recall observing this level of vitriol, insanity and hatred in a presidential election in my 14 years of voting adulthood.

It’s as entertaining as it is scary. Sometimes I have to remind myself: Holy shit, this is all really happening.

The truth is, the 2016 run for the presidency is more of a circus than I ever anticipated it could be. IВ knew it wouldn’t be pretty, but damn. And the opinions of the people — the regular, terrified, everydayВ citizens of this nation — seem to be on track towards a social media world war like we’ve never seen. There are countless Instagram pages dedicated to the support of the candidates, Facebook groups, Twitter trolls, all with the mission of making their voice heard while tearing down anyone else who tries to battle their favored candidate.

I have to admit, though, it has been quite refreshing to see how active this upcoming election has made the Millennial crew. I’m really glad there has been a politically fueled fire lit under the asses of these movers and shakers because these are the issues that matter. And as we all know, we the Millennial people have the ability to change the world.

I have friends on my side of the political fence. I also have friends on the other side of this fence. Hell, even my husband and I have opposing political views at this point. But one thing is for sure: I am NOT about to let all of this political anarchy ruin my relationships. I’m a business owner, and I would NEVER let my views affect my success at any cost.

At the end of the day, whatever is going to happen, is going to happen. I have made my presidential desires clear, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that my dreams come to fruition and, in the meantime, I plan on sitting back, not engaging in personal political conversations and continuing to mind my own damn business.

Unless you personally have hit the campaign trail in favor of a certain candidate, you may want to play the next few months on the safe side of things, ensuring to not damage friendships, file for divorce and/or back yourself into a corner of opinions and anger. Because nothing drives tensions and unhappy feelings more than a person you care about not being able to see and accept your point.

Simple example, I will never agree with my husband’s love of country music, but you don’t see me posting about why the sound of country music makes me want to drive sharp objects into my skull, do you?

I am not a political expert. I am not even that radically political. You don’t have to listen to me. But you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

These are my three ways to not lose friends during this election season:

1. Keep politics off your social feeds.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and for God’s sake, any dating app you are signed up for — unless you feel like telling the world you just voted and feel so damn patriotic because of that, there is no need for you to share your political views with your friends and family. Whether others make it clear to you or not, they could be extremely offended if you, say, endorse a candidate publically who has personally offended a Facebook friend of yours with a racial slur or extreme declaration of nonsense. Politics and social media do not mix. Don’t do it.

2. Keep politics away from the dinner table.

Because nothing ruins a nice night out with friends faster than a heated conversation turned table-flipping argument faster than a comment like, “How could you actually LIKE that candidate?!” If you dare to swim these waters, I can guarantee you’ll never be dining with these people again. Politics is never a tasty side dish.

3. Think before you speak.

This is a tough one, even for me. I am full of thoughts — lots of thoughts at all times, wherever I go and whatever I’m doing. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of arguments to learn that my opinions about your choices, regardless of what they’re about, belong in my head and my head only, unless otherwise specified. Trust me, I’d love to tell you why voting for a certain candidate will drive our country straight into the ground, but I don’t, because you don’t care what I think. And what I think will not change the outcome, but I do think it could cost us our friendship.

So for now, I’ll keep my mouth shut, hope you choose to do the same and ride the wave of insanity for the next few months quietly. See you at the polls.

Whether you decided to enter a cross party partnership from the off, or they just got a bit radicalised via Mumsnet, there’s every chance you might find yourself sharing a bed with your political nemesis. The Guyliner takes you through the steps to assuring a peaceful coalition

While politics has been jokingly known as “show business for ugly people”, it now seems to be the natural successor to reality TV too. Fantastical storylines, plot twists, attempts to distort reality and create drama by the “producers” (or the government, in this case) – the political landscape makes your average episode of The Only Way Is Essex look as explosive as a piano recital. BBC Parliament and rolling news are leaving E! and ITVBe in the dust.

This political fervour is all well and good when you’re firing off a meme destined for huge numbers, or arguing with a magenta-faced bigot on Twitter, but once you cross the threshold of your very own home, the realities of these politically charged times hit you. What’s happening in Westminster and beyond has taken on a new significance. A depressing outcome seems inevitable. We’re becoming more aware, more tribal, and more willing to do battle. And when it comes to love, we’re in dealbreaker territory.

Would you date someone whose political outlook differs from yours? Should you? That’s your call to make – all potential applicants for the contents of your trousers can either accept your criteria or stand down, but what if the call is coming from inside the house? What if… they already live among you?

It’s not unusual for us to change our minds, become more (or less) liberal, to become mildly radicalised by the onslaught of “gotta see both sides” debates so beloved of the people in charge of plonking talking heads on pastel sofas. You may find, sometimes overnight, the person you’ve shared a bed with for years has suddenly disappeared, only to be replaced by a near-identical clone who’s ordered a “Make America Great Again” hat online and has some interesting new theories about vaccines. Can a relationship survive divergent beliefs?

After all, if a partner has a hobby you’re not interested in, you usually leave them to get on with it, right? Sorry, darling, I know you love your civil war reenactment Sundays but I much prefer to be bedbound with an IV drip of coffee in one arm and a stack of newspapers in the other – it’s that easy, right? Might there be a case for making politics off-limits? Is politics just a hobby, or does it reflect your entire character?

It’s important to remember in any relationship that you’re still allowed to exist as two separate entities – unless dietary requirements start to make preparing dinner overly difficult. You don’t have to be a hive mind, sharing everything. You can retain your own personality.

The difficulty with political opinions, however, is that they can be quite revealing about what lies beneath; you can see your partner for who they truly are and it can be frightening. You could always try the old “agree to disagree” cliché, but does that mean you’re being silenced? Can you ever truly agree to disagree, or are you just delaying the argument for another day, when it’s had a chance to ferment into something even more horrendous, probably while lost on a car journey and using the Sat Nav as a reluctant, unhelpful mediator.

If you want to give it a shot, you need some ground rules:

Say goodbye to social media

Unfollow each other immediately, on any social channels where you anticipate even a trace of political hoo-ha might arise. Do not argue with one another online. Resist the urge to comment publicly about how TERRIBLE they are, even if they’re going full “blue passport rage”.

Limit politics talking time

You don’t have to avoid it altogether; you can’t live in a bubble. But have a set time for it. You might find it useful, in a way. Discussing things with someone whose viewpoint is miles from yours can help you arrive at your own informed opinion.

Be open-minded, even on the occasions they are not

When they go low, you go high. And certainly don’t die trying to convert them.

Don’t take it into the bedroom

I know hate sex with someone of a different political persuasion sounds quite hot, but it has a limited shelf life. Is… disagreeing actually sexy? Can it spur you on? If you want the much-vaunted “make-up sex” don’t you have to fall out? Well, it kind of depends on the crux of the disagreement. If they can only “get there” by saying despicable things about food banks, then I would argue this needs addressing separately, with trained professionals.

It can be upsetting when the person you love the most – who shares your heart, bed, and mortgage indemnity insurance – veers off toward a new political sunset, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end. If you can stomach it, use it as a learning opportunity. You might become a more well-rounded person. You have the insider knowledge; you know how the other side thinks. Can you somehow use this to further your own cause? It’s a bit like being a double agent, perhaps, and as we all know spies are sexy. Well, Hollywood ones are, the type who keep microfilms under their trilby and have untold assignations with beautiful, beret-clad freedom fighters. Not so much the ones who “disappear” or become rather too acquainted with a deadly nerve agent.

Being politically challenged by your partner can strengthen your beliefs or maybe even make you question them. As we know, two wrongs don’t make a right. What if you and your partner had the same political beliefs and were unaware that you were both equally as deplorable as one another? Makes you think!

Remember people can change their mind, they can regret their vote, and they may find some of their party’s policies appealing, but others repugnant. That said, if it’s too draining, remember to put yourself first – vote with your feet, and use them to walk the hell out of there. Leave your political rival crying at the ballot box and take your honourable member elsewhere.

And how doing so can actually make you a better person.

If you’ve lost friends or developed contentious relationships over the course of this presidential election, you’re not alone. Steering clear of political conversations with loved ones—and unfollowing or hiding those on social media with opposing views—has become a common coping mechanism for getting through these long months leading up to November 8.

And while that may be the path of least resistance, experts at Virginia Tech University are urging Americans to reconsider this behavior.

“We need to find ways to empathize and understand each other, despite our differences, if we are going to solve the myriad of challenges we face,” said Todd Schenk, Ph.D., an assistant professor of public and international affairs, in a press release. “Instead of avoiding, we should think about how we can coexist.”

Schenk has research to support his view: To see if face-to-face interaction between people with opposing beliefs could increase feelings of empathy between them, he recently performed an experiment he calls The Frenemies Project. The project brought together individuals who had strong beliefs on either side about a hot-button political issue—in this case, immigration—who otherwise would have little contact with each other.

The volunteers took part in several scenarios designed to facilitate dialog between the two sides, including role-playing in which they were asked to briefly argue the view they opposed, and one-on-one discussions where they compared their differences and similarities.

The activities didn’t change anyone’s minds about which side of the issue they were on (you knew it wasn’t going to be that easy). “Everyone left just as passionate as they were when they arrived,” Schenk tells

But they did leave feeling more understanding of other people’s views, and in some cases, more willing to find compromise. “The experience gave them a chance to appreciate other viewpoints and see each other as actual people, so they felt less anger,” he says.

That feeling—empathy—is sorely needed in such a polarized political climate, agrees psychologist Scott Geller, Ph.D., director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Applied Behavior Systems. Not only can it help us treat each other better, but it can protect against a phenomenon known as confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias occurs when we read and follow news (and opinion) sources that support what we already believe, and we filter out those that go against our views. It happens naturally based on the people we choose to spend time with, and where we choose to work or spend time. But it’s made worse by the self-selecting nature of social media, Geller tells—even more so when we curate our news feeds down to only the voices we want to hear.

That may not sound so bad—after all, your side is the right side, you think; why should you waste time and get stressed out by exposing yourself to the wrong one?

Because you might learn something valuable about the other side, says Geller, or even about yourself and your own views.

“If we keep our views private or we only interact with people who support those views, we never really get to test them out loud,” he says. “If I test my perceptions of a candidate by voicing my opinion to somebody who feels differently, I might realize that I’m a little off; maybe I don’t feel as strongly as I thought. Maybe the other person is making good points, as well.”

Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially when passions run high and misinformation is everywhere. So while Geller does recommend being open about politics, he also has some suggestions for doing it in a healthy, productive way.

  • Ask questions. If a friend or acquaintance is vocal about a view you don’t agree with, approach the conversation in a non-aggressive, non-directive way, says Geller: “Start out by asking for the other person’s opinion—‘Can you explain why you feel that way?’—and then give your own opinion in response.”
  • Acknowledge their view. “Respond back to them by saying, ‘I understand you’re coming from a different place and why you feel that way. Here’s my background and why I feel differently,’” says Geller. Admitting that everyone has their own biases may help the other person see your side, as well.
  • Take it offline. It can be extremely difficult to express compassion over social media, says Geller, especially in a semi-public forum like Facebook. (While he is a strong proponent of talking socially about politics, he’s not a fan of posting political views on social media.) If you really feel that someone’s online behavior is jeopardizing your relationship, he says, it’s best to put election talk on hold—and, yes, maybe even hide their posts temporarily—until you can sit down face-to-face.
  • Give advice, if you must. Have a friend who’s constantly sharing incendiary memes or blatantly false articles? You might send them a friendly note, says Geller: “I’d say something like, ‘I’ve been reading your posts and they’re coming across pretty strong, and you might be influencing some attitudes about you that are unwarranted.’” Hopefully, he or she will take your advice and tone it down.
  • Be reflective, not reactive. Finally, make sure you’re following the same ground rules you’d expect of others, he says. And think twice before posting something that may generate harsh feedback or land you in an exhausting back-and-forth argument. Most of the time, you’ll be glad you held back.
  • If all else fails, downgrade your relationship. If this election is bringing out personality traits in people you simply can’t accept—if an acquaintance or relative is posting racist or sexist rants, for example, and isn’t able to realize why they’re offensive—it may be time to reevaluate their status in your life, and in your social feed. “There are certainly times when more interaction just won’t help and can, in fact, hurt,” says Schenk, who adds that being a good “frenemy” requires a commitment on both sides. “No one should tolerate speech or behavior that is discriminatory, abusive or otherwise morally reprehensible to them.” (Check out advice for breaking up with a friend here.)

Schenk, whose research focuses on collaborative planning and decision making, also recommends mending damaged relationships, if possible, after the election is over and tensions aren’t quite so high.

In fact, he’s named November 9 National Frenemies Day. “It should be like a detox day, when we sit down and have coffee with people we’ve avoided or have been arguing with, and really start to engage in conversations,” he says.

Schenk’s best advice, though, can be put to use now: Keep it civil, and don’t get sucked into the mudslinging that’s consumed so much of this campaign.

“The vitriol and animosity this election season really have reached new heights,” he says. “We need to find ways to appreciate each other’s humanity, even when we disagree.”

Home » Relationships » It’s Complicated » How to deal with friends with different political views

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

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Political conversations can be inflammatory! Do you love your friends but wish they understood politics and social issues on the same level you do?

How do you cope with extreme differences while debating politics with your close friends?
How do you retain your best friends when their concept of reality seems so wrong? The following guidelines might be of help:
Do not let your temper get the better of you. Different points of view are neither a reason nor an opportunity to turn the conversation into a verbal attack or confrontational dialogue!
Let go and listen. Most people are afraid to truly listen to anotherâ??s point of view because they are afraid of being swayed away from their own. While you may not agree with your friendâ??s political views, learning the how and why behind their point of view will draw you closer even if you can’t agree
Ask questions to gain new understanding and try to see their point of view. Ask your friends as many questions as possible to try to learn and understand their thinking as to why they choose one party over another.
Try to be gentle, kind, and patient! The ideal is to find zones of agreement. What you want is to lessen the gap between you â?? in spite of your political differences. You don’t have to prove you’re “right” and you CAN agree to disagree.
Consider your response before disagreeing. Accept that we all have different opinions. Sometimes political spin is inherited from tradition, history, family, or from social/cultural influences. You may have grown up under completely different circumstances to your friends.
Often different political views represent different ethics. If your friend has ethics with which you cannot identify, or that differ too widely from your own, you may have to bite the bullet and move on.
Don’t choose your friends by their politics. Don’t choose your friends by their politics â?? choose a friend by their loving heart, honesty, or reliability. Could you call on your friend in an emergency? Would they run you to the airport in the middle of the night … or sit in the dentistâ??s office waiting for you if you needed a root canal procedure? If they would, then nurture them as precious friends in spite of your different political views.
… should you be totally inflexible in your political beliefs, then make sure to choose friends with similar political views to yourself. Volunteer for your party and go to rallies where you can meet and befriend people with political views with which you are more able to identify.

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How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

As the saying goes, the heart wants what it wants. Sometimes, the heart wants another heart with different political views, which can be cause for some serious tension. According to a 2016 survey, 17 percent of Republicans and Democrats who are either married or living with their partner said their spouse or partner belonged to a different political party. And lately, opinions across party lines are particularly tense. “Even people who deeply love each other are falling victim to the ‘politics of personal destruction’ where it’s not enough to disagree with someone but you have to destroy them and everything they stand for in the process,” marriage and family therapist Gary Brown, Ph.D., told Women’s Health magazine.

Despite the alarming sentiment, relationship success is possible if you focus on mutual respect, empathy, and patience. Whether you’re in a new relationship or have been partners for some time, take these experts’s advice on navigating coupledom with different political views.

Acknowledge Your Partner’s Opinion

While you don’t have to agree with your partner’s opinion, it’s important to recognize their point of view and willingness to share it with you. When you feel your temperature rising during an argument over who the best candidate to lead the country should be or the most effective approach to an issue, Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman, authors of the book, Couple Talk advise couples to encourage each other to keep talking, rather than tuning out. Doing so takes the emotion out of the equation, per Haller and Moorman. It demonstrates a willingness to listen and actually discuss the issue, not cut each other off.

Seek Understanding

A useful way to begin is to talk about how you and your partner argued, write Haller and Moorman. They add that discussing the aftermath of an argument in this way helps couples reframe how a future argument might be improved. This type of discussion also holds space to discuss what was good or productive about the way you treated each other during the argument, and recognize the fact that you do not agree does not mean the relationship is destined for disaster. “Seek to learn why your partner thinks differently than you do. This is a skill you’ll need in many area if you are to create a lasting relationships,” said Tina B. Tessina, a psychotherapist and author of, Dr. Romance’s Finding Love Today.

Be Specific

Instead of focusing in on party affiliation, which is too vague and overgeneralized, stick with specific issues, writes professional counselor Kia James, EdD., LCPC. “It is much easier to focus on a specific
issue that you both agree or disagree with versus affiliation differences. When you can agree that both of you dislike how either party has planned to deal with a specific issue it is a more meaningful

Agree to Disagree

“The connection people feel with their city’s sports team is the same way they feel with political candidates. If you attack someone’s sports team, they are never going to agree with you, no matter how qualified your position is.” said Suzanne-Deggs White, a university counselor, in an interview with Vox, However, there are just some things couples will ever agree on, and that is ok. Allowing space in your relationship to respectfully disagree should be expected, because agreeing on everything is unrealistic. Again, experts advise focusing on how you discuss your differences rather than zeroing in on the opinions themselves. When you reach a peak during a heated political debate, that is the optimal time to bridge your differences by agreeing to disagree.

What if You Just Can’t Compromise?

If your relationship is important yet you find yourself continually at odds with your partner’s beliefs and opinions, it might benefit your partnership to seek professional perspective and guidance. Family and couples therapist Tracy K. Ross shared with Health that a therapist can help address negative cycles, uncover the root cause of conflict and distance, and help couples remember the reasons why they’re in a relationship in the first place. It’s possible to learn from each other, writes Tessina. “You may find you have more in common than you think.”

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

Polarizing topics such as student debt, gay rights, and women’s health are now, more than ever, part of the national dialogue about the upcoming presidential election. As these issues are debated and discussed, you’ll find that some of your friends disagree with your positions. These are sensitive, personal issues, and it’s easy to get riled up and confrontational. It’s important to keep in mind that political positions change over time, and both your views and your friends’ are evolving. You can learn from a friend who has different opinions, and simply because you associate with a different political party, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to find common ground. We asked two political journalists how to engage friends so that you can have positive, constructive conservations about the issues that you care about.

Initiate a conversation.

“I have friends who have different views than I do, and I can learn a lot from them,” says Noreen Malone, assistant editor of New York magazine’s political blog, Daily Intel. “Instead of slogging your way through a boring article on the ‘Buffett Rule,’ you can engage a friend who you know has conservative fiscal views and learn from them. Think of it as an opportunity to open dialogue.”


“Something that I’ve learned as a reporter is to always listen more than you talk,” says Elicia Dover, a political reporter for ABC News. “First of all, you never know what you could learn. Keep your mind open to what they have to say. Most people don’t fit perfectly into the Democratic or Republican parties.”

Consider the other perspective.

“Like anything in life, you want to put yourself in the other person’s shoes,” says Malone. “Instead of just getting mad, think about where they are coming from. Why do they have this view? Ask them to explain their argument. You don’t have to agree with it, but maybe through discussion, you will understand each other better and even become closer friends.”

Use social media to share your opinions.

“I think that saying, ‘here’s why I think this, let me send you an article’ is helpful,” says Malone. “Through social media, you can share thoughts and also suggest to a friend that they follow someone entertaining on Twitter who has a distinct political view.”

Avoid imposing your views on your friends.

“You don’t want to reform your friend in your mold,” says Malone. “That’s an important lesson to learn. Your friends don’t have to agree with you on everything. They may not have the same taste in clothing as you, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends with them. It’s the same with politics.”

Try focusing a conversation on current events and debates.

“My friends tend to talk about politics around events, like a presidential debate,” says Dover. “It’s a good time to discuss what we believe in based on what the candidates are saying. That way, we’re not really attacking each other or disagreeing; we’re talking about what the candidates are saying.”

Know when to walk away.

“When talking politics with anyone, if the conversation ever becomes volatile and you get to a point when you can tell that you’re not having fun anymore, it’s a good idea to stop, agree to disagree, and move on,” says Dover.

Prioritize your personal relationships.

“The candidate that I followed on the campaign trail, Newt Gingrich, has a sister that has completely different political views than he does,” says Dover. “I’ve talked to him about it, and at the end of the day, they’re family and that comes first. Regardless of how their views differ, they still have a lot of love for each other.”

This story was originally published on May 7, 2012.

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

By Stephen Antczak, Next Avenue Contributor

During an election year, especially one as blistering as this, you may be finding it difficult to maintain friendships crossing party lines. That’s, sadly, a not uncommon problem.

A study by political scientists Shanto Iyengar of Stanford University and Sean J. Westwood of Princeton University ( Fear and Loathing Against Party Lines) found that people are perfectly willing to openly decry, and actually discriminate against, those who identify with the party opposing their own (the paper’s authors call this “outparty animus”).

So what can you do to prevent strong political disagreements from coming between you and your friends? I spoke with a few experts — including famed political adviser rivals and spouses James Carville (Democrat) and Mary Matalin (Republican) — for their advice.

Easiest Way to Stay Friends

The simplest way to stay civil, according to the pros, is to just avoid bringing up politics when you get together with pals.

The Best Places To Retire In 2020

Just don’t talk about it — especially when you’re with someone who gets feisty about the candidates and issues.

But shouldn’t reasonably intelligent adults be able to discuss politics without the conversation turning acrimonious? Yes.

A Tip From Bernie Sanders

Regardless of your political affiliation, it might be a wise to take a cue from Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. Here’s what he said when he gave a speech to Liberty University audience that disagreed with his views (the school was founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell):

“Let me start of by acknowledging what I think all of you already know,” Sanders said, going on to acknowledge that a number of his positions were “very, very different” from those of the crowd. Getting some of your political differences out of the way with a friend may help the two of you find common ground on other issues, especially when the subject is approached from a place of mutual respect.

Belittling or making fun of your friend’s political opinions is probably not the best approach to maintaining a bond with someone who holds dear ideas about the election and the issues that are opposite to yours.

Iyengar suggested that, “When you encounter agreement on a particular issue,” perhaps, then, “you explore other issues. Research shows that Americans often express inconsistent views — liberal on one, conservative on another — on the issues. You might disagree on abortion, only to discover that you agree on Obamacare.”

Even so, the Stanford professor says he anticipates that, based on the tenor of politics for the last eight years, “matters will become more acrimonious in the immediate future. I think polarized politics is here to stay.”

What Mary Matalin and James Carville Advise

Political opposites Matalin and Carville (she helped George H. W. Bush win the White House; he did the same for Bill Clinton) have famously maintained a successful marriage since 1993, as recounted in their memoir, Love and War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home.

I wondered what people should do if they find themselves surprised by a friend’s sudden outburst insulting their political sensibilities. So I posed the following to them: “Let’s say you’re meeting your friend at a sports bar and a political ad comes on. Your friend says, ‘Hillary Clinton should go to prison,’ or ‘Jeb Bush is a crook.’ You vehemently disagree, but don’t want to get into a back-and-forth and you also don’t want to back down. What should you do?”

Carville said he would respond with, “That’s not the first time I’ve heard that, but I hope it’s the last time.”

Matalin countered: “Among the many reasons I love my husband is this certainty. Neither of us would hang out with such cretins, (nor) would we feel compelled to respond. (If this) is this is a problem for people out there, they need to change their friends. There is more to life than politics. And idiots.”

Failing that, experts say, you could point out to your friend that such comments make you feel unwelcome. That could work.

What Makes for a Good Friendship

A 2011 Boston College study (Can Friendships Be Partisan?) found that both “liberals and conservatives were comfortable with some level of bipartisanship among their friends.” While people tend to seek out others with similar political views, the researchers noted, other factors mattered more to the success of a friendship: trustworthiness, dependability and an easygoing manner.

The study pointed out that there’s real value in “bipartisan friendships”, too.

Not only does having friends with different outlooks on life enrich you, but it adds value to society as a whole. Promoting friendships between liberals and conservatives, the authors noted, benefits society by increasing “intergroup interactions” which can help people find common ground, rather than simply bleat their positions from opposite corners.

That’s one reason why I’ll maintain the relationships I have with my conservative friends; not because I believe I can change them, but because we provide each other with an alternative portal through which to view certain issues.

Also, and this is the main reason, because they’re my friends, and I value their company. True friendship should, er, trump politics every time.

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

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Next Avenue is public media’s first and only national journalism service for America’s booming older population. Our daily content delivers vital ideas, context and perspectives on issues that matter most as we age.

Just two weeks into Donald Trump’s presidency, news hit of the first divorce triggered by the election results (or at least, the first to go viral).

In an interview with Reuters, Californian Gayle McCormick, 73, said she and her husband of 22 years decided to split up after he mentioned that he planned to vote for Trump.

Though her husband ended up writing in former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich at the ballot box instead, the damage was already done.

“It really came down to the fact I needed to not be in a position where I had to argue my point of view 24/7,” she said. “I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing that.”

Though an extreme example, the story highlights how hard it is to love and maintain a civil relationship when you’re at odds politically. Like the McCormicks, 30 percent of married households contain a mismatched partisan pair, according to data site FiveThirtyEight.

If those couples weren’t getting into arguments before the election, chances are they are now, with each day bringing fresh executive orders, cabinet confirmations and emotionally charged POTUS tweets. It’s all too easy to get upset if your spouse is your political opposite.

How do you avoid the McCormicks’ fate if you have different political views? Below, couples who’ve been in mixed political marriages for years share their advice.

Rule #1: Don’t look at your partner as a surrogate for his or her party’s candidate.

Kerry Maguire, a left-leaning dentist who serves as the director of the children’s outreach program at the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been married to her husband Thomas Stossel, a right-leaning hematologist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, for over 20 years.

In that time, she’s tried to not confuse Republican leaders’ views with those of her spouse.

“Tom has nothing in common with Donald Trump except they both belong to the Republican party,” she told The Huffington Post. “Still, I have occasionally ― and unfairly ― dumped my frustrations over Trump in Tom’s lap. Not surprisingly, that can evoke a defensive response in him, which I sometimes interpret as Tom being in agreement with Trump.”

Highly charged events like the Women’s March in January have definitely triggered some emotions in the couple. When arguments get too heated and Maguire is responsible, she takes full ownership for stirring things up.

“His response to the Women’s March was, ‘Didn’t these people vote?’ And I wanted to tear my hair out and start talking about parallel universes,” she told us. “Then I realized that I was the one who set us up for the fight.”

Rule #2: Keep things in perspective.

Stossell, meanwhile, recognizes that President Trump’s actions offend his wife far more than they offend him. Like any supportive spouse, he takes it in stride and actively listens when his wife is unnerved by the latest executive order or Kellyanne Conway’s most recent claim of “fake news.”

“Kerry complains about him from time to time and that’s OK with me,” he told HuffPost. “The 20 plus years I’ve been married to her have been the best of my life and there’s no way political disagreements could compromise my affection for her.”

Rule #3: Remind yourself that winning isn’t everything.

They may have appeared in a pre-election video titled “Donald Trump Is Ruining My Marriage,” but New York magazine columnist Mandy Stadtmiller and her Trump-supporting husband, comedian Pat Dixon, are still very much married.

That’s partly because both realized that winning an argument about Trump means very little compared to their growth as a couple.

“If we disagree on a political issue, America’s future is not going to be determined by who wins a single argument we are having in our tiny Chelsea apartment,” Stadtmiller said. “It might determine our future, though.”

She added: “Challenge, disagreement and adversity can make a good couple grow stronger, more emphatic and more sensitive if you never lose your respect for each other in the process of spirited debate.”

Rule #4: Don’t bring politics to bed.

Alicia Chandler, a left-leaning attorney who lives in the greater Detroit, Michigan area, has endured four presidential elections with her conservative, Trump-supporting husband. In that time, they’ve learned to avoid placing campaign signs in their yard (”We do not need to let the whole neighborhood in on our dysfunction,” she joked in a blog prior to the 2017 election) and to avoid talking about politics or unsettling world news before bed.

“You have to give each other safe spaces ― and I’m not simply suggesting that term because the mere mention of it infuriates my husband and most other conservatives,” she said.

To protect her marriage, Chandler tries to avoid looking at social media while in bed.

“When I do, I have the bad habit of getting into a heated conversation about whatever the political crisis of the day, which is horrible because my brain has already shut down for the day,” she said. “Basically, I am more likely to lose any argument on an intellectual level and it ends the the day on a negative note.”

Talking about news of the day with your spouse is important, but Chandler stressed the importance of designating times of days where the conversation is politics-free.

Rule #5: Recognize the core beliefs you do share.

Micah Leydorf is a former congressional staffer and a conservative married to a liberal. When the divide between her and her husband seems great, she reminds herself that they ultimately share a common belief system.

“We may not agree on many important national policies, but we agree that loving people and loving each other are more important,” she told HuffPost. “We don’t argue when we discuss politics because we are united in our focus on living out our common belief in a loving God. You have to focus more on living out your core beliefs every day instead of just talking about them.”

Rule #6: Value the experience of listening to the other side.

In these hyper-partisan days, most of us consume a media diet that feeds into our preconceived beliefs and biases. Being married to your political opposite forces you to consider the other side’s opinions and hear their latest talking points, said Julia Arnold, a Minnesota-based blogger who’s been married to a conservative for nine years. Yes, she said, sometimes that means she’s forced to watch Fox News.

“The truth is, you may or may not believe that the media is biased, but either way I still find value in spending time with a variety of news outlets,” she said. “The way I see it, it’s helpful, not harmful, to watch and read a variety of media.”

Arnold added that being being married to your political opposite compels you to look at your beliefs and sometimes, even question them.

“Our relationship has made me more open-minded and less judgmental,” she said. “I hope my husband feels the same way. My marriage has made me look at things through more than one lens and I feel lucky for that opportunity.”

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If you’re dreading going home for the holidays, you’re not alone. The thought of a family dinner with members holding opposing political views sounds like a recipe for disaster, but there are ways to get through it without stirring up drama. Relationship adviser Cathryn Mora from shared her best tips for surviving the holiday season with loved ones despite your beliefs.

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

Here’s how to deal with post-election discussion this holiday season.

1. Work through differences but recognize the importance of your existing commitment.

If the election brings up value differences between family members, this is an important situation to work though, but it’s also very important to recognize that for a family or couple who are already committed to each other, you have an existing relationship or commitment that needs to be valued and honored. For example, in an ideal situation, you would marry someone who shares your exact values, but this doesn’t always happen, and something like the election can make differences arise that you weren’t aware of.

So remember — you’re already a family, so love and value each other regardless.

2. Learn how to argue “fairly.”

When you’re discussing, you could disagree about the topic without making personal attacks or criticisms. Learn how to ask open-ended questions to understand the other person’s point of view, like . . . “I hadn’t thought of it that way. Tell me more about that . . . I’m interested to know the thinking behind that . . . “

Don’t say things like “how could you believe that!,” “that’s ridiculous!,” “I would never have married you if I’d known you felt that way!”

3. Don’t put your “map,” or your perspective, onto another person.

You and your partner or family member might view things differently, and it may be impossible to understand HOW they could have this belief . . . But everyone has a long life journey to get to where they are today, and the whole of who they are is the sum of a lot of small incidents and influences.

It’s not possible for another person to share your exact story, and they don’t need to. Your perspective or belief may feel like the only view, but it’s still just your view. Respect that people are complicated, and their personal beliefs exist and are based on a variety of factors.

4. It’s OK to walk away.

From the discussion, not your relationship! Especially if you’re dealing with family during the holidays. Arguing about politics is the oldest cheer-killer in the world. If you overhear or begin to get involved in a discussion about politics, it’s OK to excuse yourself. You could say, “I’d like to relax and enjoy the day. I’m going to excuse myself from this discussion . . . ” Just take the heat off.

5. Recognize your area of control and influence.

You can’t change value-based beliefs with logic. Arguing about politics will never result in either person changing their views, because politics and the process of an election are very much based in speaking to people’s values, because politicians know that’s where their messages hit home.

This means that trying to change someone’s political views is basically trying to change who they are at their core. It’s not going to happen.

If that person is your romantic partner, you need to find a way to align your values. Sometimes you share the same values, but you’ve lost sight of that. Rediscover your shared values together and focus on those.

In the current political climate, it seems almost impossible for anyone to cross party lines. And if our elected officials can’t bring themselves to be open-minded to opposing views, what hope is there for the rest of us? Navigating a relationship with a partner who has different political views than you do isn’t easy. But it can be done. One shining example is Mary Matalin and James Carville , both are high-profile political consultants. Despite their opposing political views, she’s a libertarian and he’s a democrat, they have been happily married for over 25 years.

Their secret? They don’t discuss politics at home.

But, unfortunately, that doesn’t work for every couple. So if you’ve met someone great, who makes you happy in every way except when they open their mouth about taxes and immigration policy, what do you do? Don’t worry, there’s hope. I make up one half of a politically different couple myself. And I can confirm that if you and your partner are willing to make your relationship work, there is no reason why blue and red can’t come together to make a beautiful purple.

Be Curious

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

I will admit that when I started dating my current partner, I had assumptions about his politics that made me unsure whether it would work out between us. However, I figured it would be unfair to not give him a chance to explain his beliefs. So I asked him questions, and he was more than happy to answer them.

It turned out to be what really sold me on him. He was not condescending in his explanations of his point of view and he didn’t make me feel stupid for not knowing what he was talking about. He was glad that I wanted to know more and encouraged me to keep asking questions. That is how you learn and no one should belittle or make you feel ashamed for doing it. Any partner, or potential partner, should be willing to help you find the explanations you are looking for, and not put you down for not knowing in the first place.


How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

It’s easy to tell yourself you are open-minded. But when your partner has an entirely different viewpoint you may find yourself wanting to defend your beliefs instead of listening to theirs. It’s important to resist that impulse. If you’re taking the time to sit down and discuss a certain topic, both of you need to be really present in the conversation. Distractions should be kept to a minimum as you discuss. For example, keeping your phone in another room is a good idea. If your phone is nearby, you are more than likely to ignore what your partner is saying and inadvertently telling them that it isn’t important.

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

So how do you and your partner actively listen to each other? One way to do this is by reiterating the point you just heard them make by saying “This is what I heard you say, am I correct?”. This allows your partner to confirm this or correct themselves if it didn’t come across in the way they hoped it would. In return, your partner should offer you the same courtesy. The whole point of a discussion is to see how someone arrived at their opinion; Arguing over why their opinion is wrong is not.

Monitor Your Reaction

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

When you are debating a topic that you know both you and your partner are passionate about, there are ways to ensure that the discussion will not get heated. Before jumping in, take some time to organize your thoughts. By allowing yourself to take a breath you lessen the risk of saying something angry and disrespectful. If there is a point when voices are being raised or volatility is starting to take over, that’s your cue to take a timeout and return to the discussion when you are both level-headed enough to continue. Even a simple “Hey, this is important and I want to talk about it, but I’m feeling pretty angry right now. Maybe we can talk tomorrow?” can make a huge difference.

During the first big argument my boyfriend and I had over politics, tensions ran high and I could feel myself becoming angry and defensive. I was no longer listening to what he was saying. We sat in silence for an hour, uncertain about how to resolve the tension between us. In the end, we realized that it didn’t seem like we were going to find common ground with each other. And that is okay. It is normal for couples to have an argument, but when it involves disrespectful language or misplaced anger it is time to stop.


How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

There is nothing wrong with questioning your beliefs. Although, to be honest, it can be terrifying when it happens.

We allow ourselves to open to new ideas when we question what we originally thought we knew. Though, keep in mind, your partner should never force their beliefs on you. A supportive partner would not try to influence your opinions. Instead, they would tell you this is how they see an issue and that how you process that information is up to you.

Not every couple with opposing political views can end up like Mary Matalin and James Carville. For some, politics can turn out to be a deal-breaker, and that is fine. However, if you find yourself pursuing a relationship with someone who is politically different than you, communication is going to be more important than ever. Don’t be afraid to talk to each other about your opinions and ask questions if you want to know more. The key is to always be respectful of each other’s thoughts and feelings. After all, love has no political affiliations.

Tips for Discussing Politics and Maintaining Friendships

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How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

Chances are, your political leanings don’t match those of all your friends. It’s inevitable that you’ll end up disagreeing with at least some of what your friends believe politically. Without proper perspective, political disagreements can end a friendship, so it’s important to get a handle on things before an argument goes so far that it gets out of hand.

How to Handle a Situation When You Disagree With People About Politics

Here are some tips to help you get along when political conversations come up.

Discuss Things Without Trying to Change Your Friend’s Mind

Part of the blow-ups that happen between friends occurs because each is trying to change the other’s mind. The discussion goes from a calm place to a major argument, perhaps even with yelling and personal attacks. It can be maddening to some people when a friend doesn’t believe the same thing they do.

Here’s a tip that will change your relationships forever with people: Let them be who they want to be. Don’t try to change them or what they believe. Understand that everyone has an opinion based on the unique things that have gone on in their life. Change your focus from “Why doesn’t my friend vote like I do” to “I want to understand my friend’s views about politics and life.” Just try and understand, even if you don’t agree. (It’s a challenge, but it can be done.)

Get the Facts

One of the most frustrating things about discussing politics is that people on both sides of any issue very rarely get all the facts straight. It’s not always their fault. A lot of information gets thrown about in a voting year and it’s easy to pick up on a small fact without putting it in context with the larger issue.

When you’re having a discussion with a friend, focus on the factual statements you know to be true, and if your friend gets them wrong, give them the correct information calmly. If they argue, let it go. At least you know what the real issue is.

Don’t Assume Things About Your Friend

Remember that old adage about assuming? With friendship, you naturally bond with someone and therefore feel close to them. When you share a lot in common, it can be shocking the first time you realize that you disagree about a large political, moral, or religious issue. But believe it, because even the people you share just about everything in life with will have different opinions than you.

Rather than assume that your friend shares your views, go into new discussions with the objective of finding out what your friend thinks. This is a switch in intellectual view, and will actually enhance the conversations you have. Pretend you know nothing about your pal and listen closely to what they say when you ask them about a hot-button issue.

One thing that tends to happen with arguments between friends ​(and otherwise) is that someone starts to talk about their views, but the person listening instantly gets upset because their views are different, and because they are caught off guard with their friend’s take on things.

The other thing that happens is when your friend disagrees on one thing, you start to imagine the other opinions they might have. This is dangerous. Everyone has reasons for the way they vote, and they probably share some of your views and not others.

Avoid the Subject

Friends should be able to talk about most things because even when they differ they can learn something from each other. However, sometimes you both feel so strongly that there is no way you can even listen to a few words from your pal before you get upset or angry. And why do that?

Put your focus on the good of your relationship. If the majority of things about your friendship are positive, work with those instead of trying to come to an agreement politically.

Agree to Disagree

This is different than avoiding the topic altogether, however, it takes a special pair of friends to just “agree to disagree” without arguing. What this means is that you can still voice your opinions once in awhile, but you won’t have a lengthy discussion about it. You’ll both have the patience for listening to each other vent if need be, but when things get too heated you’ll know to back off and change the subject.

Be Mindful of How Facebook Affects Your Relationship

Facebook has changed the way we interact with our friends, and sometimes that’s not a good thing. That’s especially true when you and your pal differ politically. Your friend may post updates all day long about their opinions (which they have every right to do), but just seeing them repeatedly will drive a wedge between the two of you.

Friendships do end over Facebook. You may feel like your friend is bombarding you with their message, and they may be thinking they’re just expressing themselves. The online world makes it tough to remember our manners sometimes.

Work with the controls Facebook has in limiting the updates you get from a friend. If need be, tell your pal that you’re staying off Facebook because you can’t take the updates. Be honest but also respectful. If they’re a real friend they aren’t going to try and upset you on purpose, so hopefully, you can come to an agreement. If not, perhaps you need to block them entirely. It’s better to keep a real-life friend and skip their online updates if that’s what it comes down to.

We’ve always disagreed politically, but is a homogeneous viewpoint really an informed opinion?

Unlikely friendships: can you get along with someone whose worldview is radically different? Illustration: Erum Salam/The Guardian

Unlikely friendships: can you get along with someone whose worldview is radically different? Illustration: Erum Salam/The Guardian

Last modified on Sat 12 Oct 2019 15.31 BST

T his week, chatshow host Ellen DeGeneres received criticism for her friendship with former President George W Bush. A liberal who enjoys spending time with the man who waged an illegal war in Iraq? How hypocritical, people said.

More interesting to me is the broader debate it sparked. Is it really possible to go throughout life never making any friends who differ from us politically? Is it even right to do so?

At this point, I should confess that in 2015 one of my best friends voted for the far-right UK Independence party. Yes, that party. The one which campaigned for Brexit and had posters depicting queues of brown people lining up for state services as a symbol of Britain reaching its breaking point.

I, on the other hand, voted to remain. I’m a socialist from an immigrant family who grew up on benefits, so I took those posters personally.

My family worked around the clock when I was growing up, but the triple whammy of having an immigrant father, a mentally ill mother, and being poor to start with made a lot of their efforts futile. No amount of hard work would erase my Dad’s criminal record, and no amount of hours he worked as a low-paid, illegal mini-cab driver could ever get us out of poverty. As a result, I never quite bought the idea of meritocracy.

When I turned 16, I changed schools. The high school I went to wasn’t fancy, but it was in an area more affluent than where I’d grown up. My friend, let’s call him Michael, felt like one of the only people there who understood me.

We always disagreed politically, but he never grimaced when, after I became homeless aged 16, we started having to hang out in homeless hostels all the time. He didn’t find my working-class accent edgy, because he had one too. He didn’t see being friends with a working-class brown person as charity, because people like me weren’t novel to him.

We became even closer when both of us faced huge life changes. I had gone from living with my huge, loving, but destructive, family to living with strangers, while he was living with a relative who drove him crazy. He remembers this period as the both of us “discovering the need for autonomy and independence from our families at the same time”.

It seemed natural that we would become friends but today, because of our respective political stances, we have to apologise for it.

“I often have to use our friendship as evidence that you can be pleasant to people who aren’t like you,” says Michael, who is frustrated at always being asked about it.

I feel frustrated too. After high school I went to Cambridge, and my social circle changed overnight. I was suddenly surrounded by people who grew up with nannies, holiday homes and trust funds.

I made friends there, too. Sometimes because they were the only people who would speak to me, or in other cases because they were the only other brown person around. I never had the opportunity to check their politics and choose a “better fit” first.

It’s not that I’m not judgmental, or that I hold my political views lightly. I can be a nightmare to be around when someone doesn’t agree with my views, and I don’t believe that we need to be nice to everyone. Sometimes, living your politics means challenging those around you, even if they are your friend.

But in my experience, it’s not always as simple as “left” versus “right”. I know a lot of people who say they share my politics while acting completely differently – talking down to waitstaff, for example, or being condescending to working-class people for being less educated than them. Conversely, I know people who call themselves rightwing who have an egalitarian disposition in their day-to-day lives.

Michael puts it this way: “There are facade politics and then there are real politics: with friends, you see the reality of their politics – perhaps politics they aren’t even aware of.”

To illustrate his point, he tells me about a house-party he attended after Britain decided to leave the EU. Everyone was talking about how they voted, happily assuming that they were in the safe company of friends who all think the same. They were all creative millennials working in film or fashion, and most of them were self-proclaimed lefties.

That’s when Michael confessed his voting record: he had voted for the UK Independence party because he wanted a referendum on Europe, as he sees the EU as a potentially undemocratic entity.

“It totally killed the vibe. Everyone turned on me, calling me racist,” he said.

He came to another party at mine after that night, during which Brexit was brought up again. This time, people seemed interested in understanding his worldview. He puts that down to the different social circles my friends are from – so wildly varied that it would be hard to force a homogeneous viewpoint.

“Maybe they were pretending, but they realised I was different to them and they were still able to be pleasant to me,” he said.

What made him most angry was that he didn’t believe that the first group of people even really disagreed with him at all.

“How could they, if they didn’t listen to what I had to say?” he says.

Instead, he believes they closed ranks to signal to others in the room that they did not associate with people like him, and that in some way made them morally virtuous.

When I asked him if he thinks that leftwingers are so rude to him because the stakes are so high, he replied that each side just views the stakes differently.

Having a friend who thinks differently from you can be a chore. It can be infuriating and, at times, make you question your values. But, as Michael describes it, it’s never about meeting in the middle.

Sometimes, it’s about informing your own opinion by understanding the opposite, but most of the time it’s not an intellectual exercise. Our friendship runs deep enough that his politics are just a tiny part of who he is to me. Some people see him as Michael the Ukiper. I see him as Michael, the guy who knew me before my middle-class accent and feminist values; the guy who used to speak late night on the phone to my schizophrenic mother when she was lonely; the guy who knew me before I got straight As in school and went to Cambridge.

For much of my adult life, I have had to wear a mask around people. When me and Michael hang out, I can just be myself.

But in the meantime, I am also desperate for others to know that having friends who vote differently from me doesn’t compromise my political views, or make me morally inferior.

Michael finds that funny: “I think it’s essential to have friends who are different. How can you think new things unless you are encountering difference of opinion?”

I have a couple friends who have different views from me. I support everyone having their own beliefs and I feel I’m pretty open minded.

Recently, I’ve had some friends that are voting for someone whom I strongly disapprove of. I literally feel for my safety if he becomes president. How should I handle this with my friends. Part of me wants to say something to them. But another part doesn’t want to start what I think might turn into a fight.

I do not want them to vote for who I think would be a great president. It’s more like I do not like the person which they have chosen.

What do you all think I should do?

Please don’t use this question to state who you might be voting for or bash another canidate. I did not name names for this reason.

Please keep on topic.

20 Answers

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

I find that the best thing is to either not speak politics in front of them/with them, or else to joke about the candidates rather than have a real discussion.

You don’t want to start a fight with them, because if you have friends like mine, they feel strongly about their choice. You may get them angry or upset, or worse, pretend to agree with you while feeling uncomfortable when they are not even going to vote for your candidate anyways.

People have a right to their own opinion, but I do feel that we should be able to attempt to change the opinion of those we are close with when we are afraid for the nation. But this will just create barriers between yourself and your friends. Good question.

The election will thankfully be over i n11 weeks and your friendship should last a lifetime.

Are you really going to change anyone thinking on a political view point? These people would probably resent you telling them they are wrong about their candidate.

Like Religion..Politics should never be discussed as to often there is more heat created then enlightenment.

Good Luck. I am not going to vote my usual candidate either because the man is just to questionable and a poor track record so I vote for the man I believe will best serve the US.

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

As an anarchist I deal with it all the time. The best way to handle this is tell them you don’t want to discuss politics with them because it makes you upset. That’s not what I do because I am an abrasive person but I do stop when I get the feeling that I am pissing some of my friends off. I make up for it by being a loyal friend to them no matter who they vote for. The truth is McCain, Obama or Paul will not visit you in the hospital or help you out in troubled times, good friends will.

People are more important than politics.

You will not be able to convict them of anything, politics as a zero sum game with facts changing based on political perception.

I live in a “. ” state which matches my political stance , so if this is the same case for you – do not worry about your safety, your state voted for you.

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

A person votes in the primary election in Danville, Ky., in 2014. (Photo: Clay Jackson, The Advocate Messenger/AP)

USA TODAY columnist Steven Petrow offers advice about living in the Digital Age.

With a year to go before we elect a new president, a third of U.S. senators and the entire House of Representatives, it’s already starting to look like a nasty beat-em-up free-for-all on my social media feeds, especially Facebook.

Not that my feed should be singled out; according to Aaron Smith, a director at the Pew Research Center, nearly 40% of us “like” or post about political issues on social media sites and that 65 percent of Americans now use them, up from 25% at the start of the Obama presidency in 2009.

“Politics in this country, for people who are paying attention, has always involved passion and heat. But the fact that Facebook and Twitter and social media generally mean that these postings are ubiquitous doesn’t necessarily mean that the political tenor itself is new,” Shannon Gilreath, a professor of law at Wake Forest University told me this week. He added: “I think the real change brought on by social media is that people who have little information and, frankly, less wit are able to bombard us with their political opinions with the click of a mouse.”

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

Six takeaways from the GOP Colorado debate

Still, with politics-oriented memes and gifs more popular than ever, it’s nearly impossible to escape the fire and ire of our friends, families and followers. But there’s hope, which I’ll get to in a minute.

Meanwhile, let me show you what I’m seeing: Gun control and second amendment debates have made these memes viral. Are you pro-life or pro-choice? No matter, there’s no shortage of memes or GIFS to express your position. Then there are those about the Democratic frontrunner, our former first lady and ex-secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, not to mention GOP candidate, reality TV star, and businessman Donald Trump.

What difference does all this make to our political beliefs? Pew’s Smith says self-reported data indicated that 25% of social media users became more active in a political issue after discussing it or reading posts about it, while 16% say they have changed their views about a political issue after discussing it or reading posts about it on the sites.


— Keep your political posts to facts and figures and funny (not mean) things. Know what you’re posting about and keep it civil.

— When you comment on a friend’s post, again, keep to the facts, avoid rants and don’t make it personal – ever. “The only reason I would delete someone is if they trolled my posts with negative opinions,” said one poster on my Facebook wall in response to this question.

— If a friend’s Facebook posts are abhorrent to you, “unfollow” them until Election Day 2016. That way their posts and memes won’t be visible to you. Or, if they really go too far, “unfriend” or “block” them. (This option is not recommended for family members with whom you may be breaking bread or sharing turkey in a few weeks’ time.)

— Join a closed Facebook group dedicated to your political point of view and rant all you want with those like-minded individuals. But don’t think that just because it’s closed, your posts will be private; they won’t be.

— Join Twitter and leave Facebook behind for now. You can “follow” those who believe what you do and they can reciprocate. In that way, Twitter is very incestuous, but keeping it all in the family can sometimes be a good thing.

Agree or disagree with my advice? Let me know in the comments section.

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

Having different religious views undoubtedly causes a lot of problems in the world. But what do you do if you’re dating someone who is from a different faith or has no faith at all? This can make a relationship impossible if you’re expected to date within your faith. But interfaith relationships can work perfectly if you respect each other’s different views. Here are some ways to make a relationship work if you have different religious views …

1. Respect

If you’re in a relationship with someone of different religious views to your own, always respect their faith, even if you don’t agree with it. Even if you think that yours are the correct views, they have different opinions. Each of you needs to respect and acknowledge that the other has the right to their views.

2. Don’t Try to Convert Them

Your faith (or lack of) is obviously important to you. But however much you wish that your partner would share your views, you shouldn’t try to convert them to your religion. They may decide to do so, but it has to be in their own good time and their own decision. Equally, if you are an atheist you shouldn’t denigrate your partner’s beliefs – if you’re that against religion, you shouldn’t be with someone who has a faith.

3. Children

If you decide to have children in an interfaith relationship, you will need to discuss how you want them to be brought up. Will they be raised in one religion, or learn about both and decide when they’re older? Again, it is important that they are brought up seeing that both parents have respect for the other’s faith.

4. Discuss

Since faith can have a major impact on a relationship, it’s essential to the health of the relationship to talk about the issues involved. Don’t ignore them and hope it will all resolve itself. Talk about how your families react, where you would get married, and how you will raise your children.

5. Open Mind

Always keep an open mind about your partner’s religion or atheism, even if you don’t understand why they feel the way they do. If you have a strong faith, or no interest in religion at all, it can be perplexing or upsetting that your partner feels so differently. But accept that they have the right to their opinions, and that nobody is ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’

6. Learn

Try to learn something about your partner’s faith or lack of. That doesn’t mean you have to change your views, just that you should try to see things from a different perspective. It will also be interesting to learn about a different faith; every religion (and atheism) has its merits, but should also be open to questioning.

7. Support Your Partner

Finally, support your partner and their right to hold different views. It can be very challenging if your family dislikes you dating outside their faith, but if you want the relationship to last you will need to defend your partner. If they face hostility, and you don’t speak out, it will undermine the relationship.

Dating outside your faith is a challenge, but can also enrich your life. More interfaith relationships could actually be a very positive thing – we shouldn’t forget that we’re all human! Have you been in an interfaith relationship, and what were the challenges?

If you want to get your kids engaged in politics, having healthy discussions about you and your partners’ different views is a good start.

By Ian Mendes June 6, 2014

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

My wife and I don’t share the same opinion on many topics.

For instance, I love that electric-green coleslaw—while she thinks it should be handled by someone wearing a hazmat suit.

She believes that football on TV is the ideal backdrop for an afternoon nap, whereas I get fired up and emotional when NFL games are on.

We used to have heated arguments about the merits of Hugh Grant rom-coms from back in the day. (Thankfully, this is no longer a debate in our house, as my wife now sees how lame Notting Hill was in retrospect.)

But as a famous 20th century recording artist once said “opposites attract”—so maybe there is something to that theory. And for the most part, our differences serve as humorous anecdotes at dinner parties.

However, while many of our differences are superficial, there are some deeper divides that sometimes come to the forefront. Next week, we have a provincial election here in Ontario and it seems as though my wife and I could be voting for different parties.

We took an online questionnaire last week to see which political party best represented our views on the major issues. After answering the 25+ questions, we came out on the opposite ends of the political spectrum. One of us was a Conservative, while the other was tabbed as an NDP supporter. (Spoiler alert: My wife is a big fan of harnessing wind energy).

And that has me wondering: Can a couple have vastly different political views?

Personally, I have no issue with my wife voting for a different political party than me. I think our core values are still the same, but we have opposing views when it comes to certain issues. And for the most part, I think this can help strike a healthy balance within a relationship. When people get married, too often they lose their individual aspects and are forced to become this lame blob that is seen as a singular entity.

Having some areas where you see things differently can help shape your perspective on things and make sure you stay open-minded and balanced.

Obviously you need to have the same stance on certain issues—like pro-life or pro-choice—because if you were faced with a surprise pregnancy in your relationship, the two of you would need to be unanimous with your decision. But there is nothing wrong if one person in the relationship thinks that governments should fund daycare and the other person believes the opposite. Or if you believe in a two-tier health care system, but your partner is opposed to it. A lot of hot-button political issues shouldn’t be deal breakers in a relationship. Instead, they should be viewed as great talking points to have a healthy discussion.

And when our kids are old enough to vote, I want them to be engaged in the process and have a strong mind of their own. I don’t want to be one of those families who raises a kid who votes Conservative just because their dad always did. I often shake my head when I hear stories of generation after generation voting for the same political party—as if it’s a genetic trait that’s handed down. I want my daughters to have a good idea of all of the political ideologies that are out there and pick the one that best suits them.

If you want to get your kids engaged in politics, having healthy discussions about the major issues inside your home is probably a good start. And the best way to do that is if you don’t always see eye-to-eye with your partner on some of the issues.

Follow along as Ottawa-based sports radio host Ian Mendes gets candid about raising daughters, Elissa and Lily, with his wife, Sonia. Read all of Ian’s The Good Sport posts and follow him on Twitter @ian_mendes.

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The Edit Your Life inbox is brimming with episode requests related to dealing with difficult people. In Episode 177, Christine welcomes writer and psychotherapist Kristen Howerton for a lightning round episode on dealing with toxic people. Christine and Kristen cover conflict resolution with friends, toxic family members, dealing with strained family relationships when it involves caregiving of a parent, difficult co-workers, different political views, and how to deal with pretentious people in your circle of connections.

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Resources mentioned in this episode

Out of the Fog: site to help loved ones of people who suffer from personality disorders

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Catch up on previous episodes

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

Edit Your Life co-host Christine Koh welcomes guest host Kristen Howerton to talk about how to deal with difficult people

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

What footy teaches us about society

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

Understanding the appeal of Donald Trump

How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

An alternative school of thought

When was the last time you admitted you were wrong? When was the last time you changed somebody’s point of view? Do you even try anymore? Centuries ago, the philosopher Immanuel Kant talked about what makes a ‘common sense’ in civic culture possible. Each person must learn to think for themselves. But each must also try to learn to see issues from the perspective of others, which may lead them to modify their opinions.

Does that describe Australia today? How about the United States? As our society and public debate appears increasingly divisive and toxic, are we able to be friends with people who have different political views to us?

Deakin University Associate Professor of Philosophy Matthew Sharpe believes Australia is more tolerant than ever before, on one reading of the cultural landscape. He recalls growing up in a society where casual racism, which is now considered unacceptable, was widespread. The recent legislation of same-sex marriage would have been unthinkable decades ago.

But at the same time, Australia, and to a great extent, the US, are the legatees of the culture wars, which picture civil life in a very divisive way, Assoc. Prof. Sharpe says. There is little common ground.

‘There are inevitable casualties in such a war: the ability to respect the opponent, and

suppose that they are mistaken, rather than deluded or evil is one of them,’ he says. ‘Instead, the political world looks more and more Manichean: divided into Us and Them, Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, and either side’s rhetoric becomes more and more polarising.’

What does division look like in Australia?

Divisive issues such as same-sex marriage, or whether it’s appropriate to still celebrate Australia Day aren’t sitting below the surface waiting to be scratched. They are mainstream in the public and political debate. On the one hand many Australians are in favour of changing the date of Australia Day, given what it represents for Indigenous communities including death, disease and loss of land. On the other hand, Australians defend the public holiday as a celebration of Australian culture. While most of the public debate falls into one of these two camps, in practise, most Australians don’t mind if the date changes or stays the same.

‘The political world looks more and more Manichean: divided into Us and Them, Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, and either side’s rhetoric becomes more and more polarising’

Associate Professor Matthew Sharpe,
Deakin University

A similar polarity arose in the face of African gang violence in Victoria. Data from the Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency showed that people born in Sudan or South Sudan in Victoria were overrepresented in crimes such as aggravated burglary. The issue became a political flashpoint with the Federal Government slamming the Victorian Government’s handling of gang related violence. This divide came to a crescendo in an off-the-cuff debate between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Victoria’s acting Premier James Merlino at a recent press conference, where Malcolm Turnbull questioned the state’s handling of youth crime.

Is social media a factor in the fractured nature of society?

Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are a key factor of a growing cultural divide. Assoc. Prof. Sharpe argues Facebook is not only a venue for exchanging baby pictures or even bullying, but has seen increasing numbers of people bypassing traditional media to get their news.

The problem? Facebook is a big memory device that records your activity and uses algorithms to ‘feed’ news that it knows we will like and share, Assoc. Prof. Sharpe says, often based on right or left perspectives. The news we like is not always the news we need. And that means the news we share with our friends and with whom we agree politically is likely to confirm our existing beliefs about the world.

Assoc. Prof. Sharpe argues this can create a ‘filter bubble’ where we only have access to what has been preselected on the basis of our likes and shares. ‘The ability to consider the other guy’s opinion is being eroded – or rather, the need for this ability, vital to democratic culture, is being removed,’ he says.

So can we be friends with people with whom we have difference with?

It’s always been hard to be friends with people with whom you fundamentally disagree. Assoc. Prof. Sharpe says there are ways to avoid disagreement; staying clear of divisive subjects, sticking to areas of mutual interest. But these strategies depend on a basic respect for the other person. The ‘filter bubble’, he says, and the resultant division in basic ways of understanding the world makes it even more difficult to respect and consider the opinions of people different to us.

‘When we share news that agrees with our opinions, with people who also agree with those opinions, this can create the sense that we are so OBVIOUSLY right about the world that anyone who disagrees with us must be either wicked — fundamentally bad; brain-washed or deluded.

What does this look like? So, for the right, people on the left are enslaved to a self-hating, civilization-destroying, totalitarian groupthink called “political correctness”, Assoc. Prof. Sharpe says. For people on the left, people who vote Trump etc. are “deplorables”, “racists”, “sexists”.

From personal experience Assoc. Prof. Sharpe says maintaining friendships with people you strongly disagree with is definitely possible. He cites a friend who is much further right than he is. Assoc. Prof. Sharpe agrees with this friend on prioritising the people close to us but disagrees on how much we owe people more distantly related to us.

Staying open-minded to the other person’s point of view and letting them keep you in check is key. And according to Assoc. Prof. Sharpe: ‘I think admitting the possibility that you are wrong, although extremely difficult in practice, is also vitally important.’ If that doesn’t work, he suggests don’t mention the war.

Read more about how you can get your point across and argue like a great philosopher.